Saturday, March 20, 2010


I love everything about Spring.
New life, new beginnings, color, sunshine, warmth, growth the fact that we, like all of the animals come out of hibernation...all of it.

Our community has struggled, been brought to it's knees this winter.
It's been too much for many of us, for our community as a whole.

I am a pretty optimistic person, yet I found myself oppressed, wanting to cocoon this week.
Needing to feel safe and to be distracted and to retreat to my self made bubble.

Today, the first day of Spring, it's a little cooler than the incredible temperatures we had been experiencing this March Break. It's a little gray as the mixed precipitation forecast for tomorrow gathers and prepares for it's appearance....yet, it is SPRING. As I listen to the birds singing outside my window...I am reminded once again of what Spring really represents to me ...HOPE.
As tough as the circumstances of this winter have been, (the weather was incredibly mild and free from almost any snow), winter is over.
Oh, it might still feel like winter periodically in the weeks to come, but winter is OVER and Spring is here and it is time to live, to love, to grow, to change and to come out of hibernation.
It is time to allow hope to be renewed and to believe for more. To know that the best is yet to come and that those amazing days of summer we love are just around the corner.

Spring can be an interesting time of year...we can go from gorgeous summer weather one day to wet, messy winter like weather the next. Today, I am full of anticipation because I know there are some incredible and beautiful surprises that will come with the Spring even in the midst of the difficulty.

If there is one thing I have learned, it is that difficulty and tragedy are unavoidable and uncontrollable...but what I do with it, what and who I choose to focus on in the middle of it; that is what will make the difference in whether I grow stronger or weaker because of it.

Today, once again, I choose life, I choose to hear the robin sing even as the clouds darken right above my head. I choose to remember that "this too shall pass".
I choose to trust in the knowledge that My God's plans for me are for good:

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Happy Spring!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

An Irish Feast

I started my day with incredibly yummy Green Pancakes prepared by the youngest Irish Chick in my house...She made an especially big one for her daddy which he promptly came home from work to eat. It was a little tricky for hubby to eat that pancake as I was determined to get my fill of "kissing the Irish" today.
Not so sure his kissing this Irish girl will give him any "luck", and I am quite sure I don't need a further blessing of the "gift of gab", but hey if we both "get lucky"....
OK, on to the recipes!!!

Oh! While in Ottawa, I picked up some Irish Breakfast Tea for the occasion as well...sipping while I blog....mmmmm tea.

Last year it was Corned Beef and cabbage for St. Pat's supper, this year:

Irish Beef Stew Recipe


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds well-marbled chuck beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces (NOT extra-lean)
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
  • I cup of Guinness beer
  • 1 cup of fine red wine
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 7 cups)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled carrots
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


1 Heat olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Lightly salt the beef pieces. Working in batches if necessary, add the beef (do not crowd the pan, or the meat will steam and not brown) and cook, without stirring, until nicely browned on one side, then use tongs to turn the pieces over. Continue to cook in this manner until all sides are browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add beef stock, Guinness, red wine, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, then cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

2 While the meat and stock is simmering, melt butter in another large pot over medium heat. Add potatoes, onion and carrots. Sauté vegetables until golden, about 20 minutes. Set aside until the beef stew in step one has simmered for one hour.

3 Add vegetables to beef stew. Simmer uncovered until vegetables and beef are very tender, about 40 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Tilt pan and spoon off fat. Transfer stew to serving bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. (Can be prepared up to 2 days ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer before serving.)

Serves 4 to 6.


4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease a
large baking sheet. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and margarine. Stir in 1 cup of buttermilk and egg. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Form dough into a round and place on prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine melted butter with 1/4 cup buttermilk; brush loaf with this mixture. Use a sharp knife to cut an 'X' into the top of the loaf.

Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick
inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 30 to 50
minutes. You may continue to brush the loaf with the butter mixture
while it bakes. Makes 1 (1-1/2 pound) loaf. Servings Per Recipe: 20.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Time to Make some RIBS!!!

I am taking quite a risk here posting the directions for my Fall-off-the-bone-Ribs.
It's probably more of a risk to my husband than to me.
By teaching you all how to make your own ribs, I am fully aware that certain invites might be fewer and farther between.
I am truly sorry baby if you have seen your last Super Bowl or Play Off Party because of my recklessness.

If you know me and you know my cooking style, you already know there is no actual recipe for these ribs...I'm kind of a "fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants-cook"...Baking , I use recipes, (with a twist here or there of course).
I have included lots of pictures for that reason...well, that and the fact that I want to be just like Pioneer Woman when I grow up. Scrap that, I want to BE Pioneer Woman when I grow up.

Now, if you want the traditional looking ribs, use pork back ribs...make sure they are back and not side. (For the local ladies/guys, they are on sale this week for $1.97 lb).
A little while ago, I discovered these babies...incredible value as they are almost all meat and much easier to serve and eat.
I don't buy beef ribs as the bones are huge and the flavor is not the same at all.
Whatever you decide for the cut, here is the process:
These are the ribs that came from that single package at the top...just look at all the meat!
Place them as evenly as possible on a shallow roaster with a rack.

**If you are using a rack of ribs, there is a thin membrane on the underside that you will want to remove before seasoning. The easiest way to do this, is to take a sharp knife and working from the side that the bones protrude from the most, use the tip of the knife to lift the membrane enough to grab a hold of it with your fingers. Now, start carefully pulling the membrane away from the ribs. Continue down the full rack of ribs. Next time I make a rack of ribs, I will take photos of this as it is tricky at first.
Removing the membrane will allow the seasoning to penetrate the underside of the meat as well as help with tenderness.

Sprinkle them generously with a rub, I happened to have this and it works wonderfully, but you can use whatever you have starting with salt, pepper, and garlic...add anything that will give the meat a great savory flavor. (think chicken when you are working with flavors for pork)

Now they are ready for the first stage of cooking.
Oh! I will usually add a liquid to the pan.
water, apple juice, beer,(Can't stand the taste of the stuff to drink, but for BBQ type meats....yumm!), whatever you have...moisture is key, if it adds flavor great.
I also add onion, fresh chopped garlic....again, whatever you want for flavor.
Cook them uncovered at 325* .
Timing will depend on the cut, these guys are really fast...maybe 20 minutes or so. Traditional ribs take longer, but what you want is to see the meat just starting to pull away from the ends of the bones.
When you reach that stage, cover the whole thing with foil leaky spots.
****This is the whole key to getting them so tender they will literally fall off the bones....STEAM!!!!****
Lower the oven temp. to about 250*
Timing again depends on the cut as well as how easily you want to be able to serve them.
If you are wanting to finish them off on the BBQ you are going to need to be able to pick them up without them falling apart.
I like to get them so I can CAREFULLY pick them up with tongs, but those bones are just barely hanging on.
Start with an hour...should be just about right for "Buttonbones/end ribs".
Check them carefully...remember the steam will come rolling out so don't open them while you are leaning over the pan!
Unless of course, you are looking to accomplish a facial peal while you cook.

The bones should be quite exposed and when you lift or bend the ribs you want to see this:
NOW You have got some tender ribs.

Time for the sauce.
Here's where I deviate and no 2 pans of my ribs will ever be identical.
This is great if you think variety is the spice of life...not so much when you make an extra incredible batch that everyone raves over...and there is no way to duplicate.

Above are the ingredients I used once.
All of this is standard for me except what BBQ sauce(s) are involved.
Just depends on what I find in my pantry or fridge.
If I don't have BBQ sauce, I use ketchup adding soy sauce to the above ingred.

If you are not terribly adventurous, or want consistency, use any bottled sauce you problem is I haven't found one that tastes perfect to me just as it is, so I always add some of the things above.

My girls like to mix up the sauce, probably because we just start measuring.
Don't be afraid, you already have incredibly tender ribs, this is all for flavor and gooiness.
If your sauce tastes great when you are done throwing things together, your ribs will too.
Not sweet enough? Add more Brown sugar,
Needs a kick...maybe some hot sauce....go with what you love.

Brush the sauce on both sides of all the ribs, coat them really well.

If you are finishing them on the BBQ...still the very best flavor, I think.
Heat 'er up and carefully put the ribs on the grill.

In the winter or when we just want to keep it simple, I crank the oven back up to about 375* or so.
Bake UNCOVERED for a little can also use the broiler, (just keep a close eye on them)
Remember, they are already really tender, you are just looking to caramelize the sauce and send them over the edge. Don't over do it.

Also, Please don't ostracize my hubby from the guy parties just because his wife was reckless!